BY FANNI FRANKL
Indoor malls are set to reopen from the coronavirus shutdown Friday on Long Island if they have proper air filtration systems installed, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
Malls were originally included in phase four, which started Wednesday on LI, but last month were bumped from that final phase when the Cuomo administration determined the risk of air filtration units in potentially spreading COVID-19.
“We’ve had a lot of consultation work done on air filtration systems,” he told reporters. “There are a lot of air filtration systems that can take COVID out of the air, there then winds up a series of questions about what filters work on which HVAC systems.”
Cuomo said that HVAC filtration systems must be upgraded in malls to have a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating of 11. The MERV rating is measured from 1-16, with 16 marking the highest filtration level.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who has been pressing for malls to reopen, shared her excitement of the news, noting the positive effects it would have on the economy.
“I am actually getting goosebumps right now,” Curran said Wednesday. “This is great news for our economy. It is great news for our employees, employers and for revenue. It is with the filters, which I think makes a lot of sense.”
Large malls set to reopen include Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City and Broadway Commons in Hicksville, according to Curran, who spoke with some mall owners who already installed the filtration system. Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove and Walt Whitman Shops in Melville will also reportedly open Friday.
Outdoor Outlets such as Americana Manhasset, Tanger Outlets in Deer Park and Riverhead, and the Gallery at Westbury Plaza will all be open.
Westfield Mall in Massapequa still has to install the filtration system, delaying the opening. Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream did not answer for comment on the expected date of opening.
This story originally appeared on longislandpress.com.